TELEVISION

TELEVISION

THE AFFAIR 1×08

Episode Eight of The Affair grapples with a key question: it it better to stick it out, or let it go?

TELEVISION

THE AFFAIR 1×05

On The Affair, questions of "right" and "wrong" are as complicated—and as subjective—as questions of "true" and "false."

TELEVISION

THE AFFAIR 1×04

As Noah and Alison move from fantasy to reality, The Affair proves that its alternating point-of-view structure is much more than a "gimmick."

TELEVISION

THE AFFAIR 1×03

One way we can look at The Affair is as a metaphor for the writing process, in which various drafts and revisions of the story are presented side-by-side…

TELEVISION

THE AFFAIR 1×02

The Affair is using a common—even banal—situation to explore smart and subtle questions about identity and subjectivity reality.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×09: "FLATLINE"

I can be as grumpy as the next critic, but seriously: anyone who can't love a Doctor Who episode like "Flatline" should get out of the Doctor Who-loving business.

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

THE AFFAIR 1×01

The Affair, the new drama from Showtime, is the best new series of the year, and a daring attempt to expand the narrative possibilities of television.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×07: "KILL THE MOON"

Tough decisions, difficult confrontations, and painful emotional growth: sometimes, Doctor Who isn't meant to be easy.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×06: "THE CARETAKER"

"The Caretaker" is a relatively light episode of Doctor Who, but that doesn't mean there aren't important things happening: some of them kind of troubling.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×05: "TIME HEIST"

"Time Heist" isn't bad, it just isn't much of anything: it's all surface, no substance, delivering nothing more or less than what was promised in the title.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×04: "LISTEN"

Steven Moffat's stunning, exquisite "Listen" is an episode about nothing, and recognizing that nothing can be a very scary thing.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×03: "ROBOT OF SHERWOOD"

"That would be a rubbish idea," the Doctor says, and he might as well be talking about the entirety of Mark Gatiss's "Robot of Sherwood."

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×02: "INTO THE DALEK"

With an older star, a darker tone, and a slower pace, this is not your father's Doctor Who. (Or, more to the point, it is…)

BINGE WATCH

BREAKING BAD Binge Watch – 3×01–3×05

The problem with with Walter White being torn between good and bad is that we want him to be bad. We need him to be bad. We crave the thrill of badness every bit as much as he does.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 8×01: "DEEP BREATH"

Everything old is new again in Doctor Who, but the show seems overly worried about whether we'll go along with the changes.

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

THE KNICK 1×01 – "Method and Madness"

Steven Soderbergh spent most of his movie career making formulaic B-movies better than they had any right to be. Now he does the same thing for TV in a pretty but (so far) predictable new series from Cinemax.

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

OUTLANDER 1×01 – "Sessanach"

Outlander may look like an old-fashioned bodice-ripper, but—based on this confident, compelling first episode—it may turn out to be groundbreaking television.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 4×10: "THE CHILDREN"

In the beginning, GAME OF THRONES seemed like a show about keeping the children safe. Now it's becoming a show about keeping safe from the children.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 4×07: "MOCKINGBIRD"

We all have a vision of the world the way it should be. It's a place where we all grow up in happy families (who care for us as they should), and we all go on adventures (which work out just the way they're supposed to), and we all fall in love and live happily after (with the person who will love us back forever). It sounds like a nice place, that world.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 4×05: "FIRST OF HIS NAME"

"First of His Name" explores a theme that has been present all season: the way women are forced to navigate this world differently than men do, and to find ways to use their power differently.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 4×04: "OATHKEEPER"

In a world in which every person is defined by their house, family, nation, class, gender, and allegiances, deciding to change can be a bit of a challenge.

MISCELLANEOUS

TRUE DETECTIVE GREETING CARDS

A series of greeting card ideas, based on the gentle, life-affirming wisdom of HBO's TRUE DETECTIVE.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: "THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR"

"The Day of the Doctor" is full of fan-service and tributes to both the old and new series, but at its core it is simply the next vital chapter in Doctor Who, one that fulfills what I have called "The Moffat Masterplan" and brings the past, present, and future of this show into glorious agreement.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF SHIELD 1×03: "THE ASSET"

"There will come a moment when you have to commit to this or bail," a character says in "The Asset." To be honest, I haven't completely decided yet, so I'm going to keep it short this week.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF SHIELD 1×02: "0-8-4"

"0-8-4," the second episode of Agents of SHIELD, is not a quantum leap forward for the series—I doubt anyone is proclaiming this a classic to rival the best of Joss Whedon's work yet—but I'm starting to see some encouraging signs. This week's episode actually seemed like it was inching towards being a show I could invest in.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D 1×01: "PILOT"

AGENTS OF SHIELD has got some wit, and it's got some moves, but it's only my trust in Joss Whedon that will make me stick around long enough to see if it has a soul.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×13: "THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR"

"The Name of the Doctor" is not perfect, and it does not make up for an uneven and scattered season, but it's a return to form for Steven Moffat, and a welcome revisiting of the underlying themes that made his first two seasons so powerful and so resonant.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×11: "THE CRIMSON HORROR"

Every fan of DOCTOR WHO has his or her own opinion on the "worst episode ever." But ask me today and my answer might just be different from the one I'd have given you yesterday.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 3×05: "KISSED BY FIRE"

The peaks and valleys are a large part of the appeal of GAME OF THRONES, and the highs would not seem so high, or the lows so low, if the emotional beats weren't completely earned.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×10: "JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE TARDIS"

Somewhere within the wreckage of "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS" there was a great episode of DOCTOR WHO to be found, but—like the Doctor—what we find instead is a big old mess in desperate need of a do-over.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×09: "HIDE"

"Hide" is not just the best entry in Series 7 so far; it's also a perfect example of how classic Who can be updated for modern times.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 3×03: "WALK OF PUNISHMENT"

I take a little break from analysis, and approach "Walk of Punishment" as an excuse for some general appreciation and a long overdue geek-out. Because DAMN this show is good.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×08: "COLD WAR"

If I find myself just reviewing an episode, it usually means something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. So here's my review of "Cold War."

MAD MEN

MAD MEN 6×01-02: "THE DOORWAY"

The man born as Dick Whitman had to die once to escape who he was, and now—as the world has changed unrecognizably around him—the carefully constructed persona he created just feels like another stagnant, stifling identity he longs to shed and leave behind.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 2012 SPECIAL: "THE SNOWMEN"

The 2012 Christmas special gives us memory-erasing worm, a spiral staircase to the clouds, and—of course—the titual killer snowmen from outer space. But "The Snowmen" is a little more complicated than that, and thematically far richer.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

AMERICAN HORROR STORY 2X02: "TRICKS AND TREATS"

I enjoy the crazy-ass, batshit, random elements of American Horror Story, but I wish they were used with a little more purpose and planning. Even if the entire mission statement is to be scary, the show forgets that fear is a product of anticipation and dread: if you just fling things at our screens willy-nilly, none of them are going to register as they should.

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

666 PARK AVENUE

"Safe" and "predictable" are dangerous adjectives for a horror series, and 666 Park Avenue seems to have no real scares, no real surprises, and no real taste for the jugular.

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

ELEMENTARY (TV Review)

CBS is not even attempting to make the Sherlock Holmes story fresh: that is not the point. All they are trying to do is to use the Sherlock Holmes brand, cynically, to make us interested in yet another formulaic, cookie-cutter crime drama.

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

LAST RESORT

Last Resort is polished, powerful, and enjoyably preposterous. It's impossible to take it seriously, but it could be a lot of fun.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×04: "THE POWER OF THREE"

At this point in the season—with only one episode left before the hiatus, and only one more week before the Parting of the Ponds—an entry like "The Power of Three" represents a wasted opportunity on an epic scale.

FIRST LOOK/LAST LOOK

REVOLUTION

Something called Revolution should not feel so formulaic and familiar.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×03: "A TOWN CALLED MERCY"

"A Town Called Mercy" is an excellent reminder that it is possible to use the tropes of genre adventure to explore fairly complex ethical dilemmas. In fact, that's one of the things that Doctor Who does best.

DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×02: "DINOSAURS ON A SPACESHIP"

If "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" turns out to be the weakest episode of Series 7, we can count ourselves lucky—parts of it were tremendous fun, and it had just enough substance to save it from total irrelevancy—but it is both overstuffed and undercooked.

The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Oswin (Jenna Louise-Coleman)
DOCTOR WHO

DOCTOR WHO 7×01: "ASYLUM OF THE DALEKS"

Series 7 hits the ground running hard with an impressively scaled, impeccably paced story that cleverly marries the near future of this show to its distant and recent past.

MAD MEN

MAD MEN 5×11-12: "THE OTHER WOMAN" & "COMMISSIONS AND FEES"

Our latest two episodes of Mad Men each feature a major character leaving Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. One leaves in a considerably more permanent fashion than the other, but I'd still be hard pressed to say which departure is sadder.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 2×10: "VALAR MORGHULIS"

Horseshit is the foundation, glue, and currency of this entire society. For all the talk about honor in the Seven Kingdoms, it's lies that have the power to form alliances, grant kingships, topple lords, and move entire armies into battle.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 2×09: "BLACKWATER"

As the penultimate episode of Season Two of GAME OF THRONES, "Blackwater" doesn't just meet expectations: it blows them out of the water.

MAD MEN

MAD MEN 5×06: "FAR AWAY PLACES"

"Far Away Places" plays out in three short stories, occurring simultaneously, in which characters grapple with the tentative solidity of their own lives, the slippery hold they have on who they are and what is important to them, and the changing, sometimes elusive nature of reality.

GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 2×04: "GARDEN OF BONES"

Some people are born evil, some become evil, and some—if they're not careful—may go through life with the best of intentions but still leave evil in their wake.

Theon Greyjoy in GOT 2x03 - What is Dead May Never Die
GAME OF THRONES

GAME OF THRONES 2×03: "WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE"

"What is Dead May Never Die" focuses on men who do not quite fit this society's harsh definition of manhood, as we see them fight to hold onto their hearts in a culture where a heart is largely seen as a weakness.

MAD MEN

MAD MEN 5×04: "MYSTERY DATE"

Mad Men is largely about the moment when white, middle-class America awakens from that squeaky-clean, all-white, suburban fantasy of itself. This season is the transition point where the dark undercurrent that has always run beneath that fairy tale begins to overwhelm it.